Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for ENVIRONMENT and PARKS, Mr JAENSCH
It is the start of the endangered wedge-tailed eagle breeding season. Noise disturbance during breeding is well known to result in eagles abandoning eggs or even chicks and can drive them to leave a nest permanently. Drilling works were scheduled to start at Westbury Reserve for the proposed prison on Monday but the Government has been forced to halt works after advice that federal environmental protections could apply.
What assessment did your department undertake before you ticked off on this activity? Was it an RAA and, if so, will you make that assessment publicly available? Will you be referring this prison development or any works to the federal government for assessment under the EPBC act?
It is critical we do everything possible to help this iconic Tasmanian bird survive. Will you protect this nest, or will further endangering this species sit alongside misleading parliament on your ministerial achievement list?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I am advised that the due diligence work at the site is ongoing and will inform the development of the prison through the next stages of the assessment and planning process. The Department of Justice, just like any other proponent, must go through the appropriate planning and environmental approvals for the development of this project.
It will be up to the Department of Justice, as the proponent, to ensure they comply with any requirements relating to threatened species at the site. They will be required to obtain any threatened species and other permits in accordance with state legislation and approvals under the EPBC act, if so required. I am advised that the Parks and Wildlife Service has provided a written works authority directly to the consultants allowing the planned drilling works to proceed. The authority includes a condition that requires all drilling to be undertaken outside of the 500-metre buffer distance from the eagle nest. The works authority also includes a number of other standard conditions and recommends that the geotechnical consultants seek advice from the DPIPWE policy advice and regulatory services branch, formerly the policy and conservation advice branch, in relation to any threatened species or other natural values requirements as necessary.
I am advised that the authority was granted based on advice provided by the independent environmental consultant and included the consideration of potential impacts to threatened species. I am also advised by my department that the works required no approvals pursuant to the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. It will be up to the Department of Justice as the proponent to ensure they comply with any requirements relating to threatened species at the site.